SA in grey boom by 2050

01 October 2015 - 02:40 By Poppy Louw

The number of South Africans 60 and older is expected to double in the next 35 years, making the country home to more than 10million pensioners by 2050, a new report has found. Due for release by the World Health Organisation, in line with the international day of older persons today, the report estimates that South Africa's elderly population will increase from 7.7% to 15.4% between this year and 2050.The life expectancy for a baby born today in South Africa is only 60, while a person who is 60 today can expect to live to 77 on average.But effective health coverage is just below 50% of the population, meaning a majority of older adults either forgo or underutilise health services. This is in spite of a majority of outpatient care for older adults being free of charge.Though advances in medicine have been attributed to helping more people live longer, a radical change in society was needed, says the report.It also states that those from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those with the fewest opportunities and resources in older age, are likely to have the poorest health and the greatest need.Jacob Skhosana, executive director of the SA Older Persons Forum, said enhanced planning, budgeting and policy-making was at the core of improving the state of the elderly in the country."There is a myth in South Africa that confines the needs of older persons to the social development department, however, their issues go beyond that," said Skhosana.Nearly 40% of people aged 65 to 74 have activity limitations in eating, bathing, dressing, getting in and out of bed, or using the toilet. Almost half of those 75 and older have the same problems.Econex senior health economist Mariné Erasmus said better planning from both the public and private health sectors would help accommodate the needs of the elderly better."The elderly require more resources and a larger burden of this is on the state, so we should consider planning accordingly," said Erasmus.

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